Is Your Refrigerant Leaking? What You Should Know

If your home's air conditioner stops cooling like it should, chances are you may need additional refrigerant. HVAC systems require refrigerant to chill the coils to create the cold air. Over time, the refrigerant can leak out. This means you need a recharge. The following are some things you should look out for when your air conditioner stops cooling:

Listen for the Clutch

When you turn your thermostat down, listen for a clicking sound near the air conditioning unit. The click sound tells you the air conditioner compressor is on, and your air should begin to cool. The clutch is engaged from the pressure switch. The pressure switch displays pressure levels inside the HVAC system. When the refrigerant leaks out, the switch will not turn on, and the air will not get cold.

You See Pools of Refrigerant

If you see pools of refrigerant, this is a clear indication that you have a leak. A refrigerant leak is a major issue and needs to be dealt with right away. Refrigerant looks like grease, and can build up on the HVAC components as well as pool up beneath. If you think you have a refrigerant leak, call your HVAC technician right away. Your air conditioner will not work, but you also risk exposing yourself, your family members, and your pets to a toxic solution if ingested.

There Is Ice on the Indoor Components

Your air conditioner may not be cooling because there is a lot of ice built up on the inside of the air conditioner components. The refrigerant can freeze any part it touches. Since the refrigerant cools the coils inside, it stands to reason it will freeze the outside once it leaks out. Although the inside of the coils can withstand the coldness of the refrigerant, the exterior of the coils cannot. When the components freeze on the outside, they will stop working. This will then prevent cold air from getting into your house.

Your air conditioner should never leak refrigerant, although a leak can happen if you fail to have the system maintained properly and on a routine basis. To avoid the need for a recharge of refrigerant, you should have the system checked out at least a couple times a year by an air conditioning contractor. Ideally, you should schedule HVAC inspections when the seasons change. If you see refrigerant and do nothing, the system will leak and you will not have cold air at all.